KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

2009 Report: False Medicare Claims Cost Government More Than $47 Billion

The Associated Press: "The government paid more than $47 billion in questionable Medicare claims including medical treatment showing little relation to a patient's condition, wasting taxpayer dollars at a rate nearly three times the previous year. Excerpts of a new federal report, obtained by The Associated Press, show a dramatic increase in improper payments in the $440 billion Medicare program that has been cited by government auditors as a high risk for fraud and waste for 20 years. It's not clear whether Medicare fraud is actually worsening."

Much of the increase is attributed to better data collection and the new report shows the challenges the government faces to combat fraud: "While noting that several new anti-fraud efforts were beginning, the government report makes clear that 'aggressive actions' to date aimed at reducing improper payments had yielded little improvement. ... [President] Obama is expected to announce new initiatives this coming week to help crack down on Medicare fraud." This week the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is also planning to unveil a new Web site with additional data (Yen, 11/15). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.